Adjusting to a Brand New Life

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by Travis Richardson

On May 6 I became a father. It is a mind-boggling experience. I am doing things that I’ve never done before like changing diapers and swaddling. I used to be too scared to pick up an infant, afraid to be the uncle/friend who broke an infant. Now I pick up my daughter without hesitation.

Since her birth, things have been wonderful and exhausting. It’s been a month and half, and I am trying to balance my paternal duties with writing when I can. It’s been tough so far. After throwing up on the second night home from anxiety and exhaustion, I’ve managed to lower my stress, deal with the lack of sleep, and become a diaper-changing expert. What has been affected is my usually reliable creative brain. It has stalled (except for silly songs I seem to be able to make up on the spot). I’ve had some creative spurts, but nothing consistent that I often need to finish projects. I know this is an adjustment period, and I hope to hit a sweet spot again.

This works 50% of the time.
This works 50% of the time.

I had been an evening writer for most of my life, but I changed five years ago to morning typing and the results have been tremendous. I’m not sure how things will be in the future. Friend and father, S.W. Lauden, gave me the advice to write whenever you can with children around. He keeps a laptop within reach around the house. He recommended stockpiling stories. Fortunately I have some 20+ unpublished works that need some TLC (or major overhauling), but could be polished and sent out while I adjust to our lovely precious fuss bucket. (I’m writing this after an open-air accident and meltdown.)

Francis Ford Coppola once said: “My advice to aspiring filmmakers is to get married and have a family. It’s motivation and inspiration.” It’s interesting that the original article with the quote is no longer available, but I remember reading it years ago. It should also be noted that he declared bankruptcy three times including sinking all his money into the 1980s stinker, One From The Heart.  I’m not sure I’d ever put my family in that much peril over a concept.

Stephen King is known to have raised a family and held a teaching job while writing short stories and novels before things took for him. Writer Eric Beetner is insanely prolific with two children, a full time job, co-hosting duties at LA’s Noir at the Bar and a side gig designing book covers.

It would be easy to say that I can’t do writing under the circumstances, but others have done it so I have no excuse. I need to bear down, reorient my brain and make it happen.

In other news, I’m excited to be nominated for a Macavity short story award along with Art Taylor, Barb Goffman, Craig Faustus Buck, and Paul D. Marks. You can find all of our nominated stories here:

Have you had any major changes in your life that caused you to reconfigure your writing life? Would love to hear about it.

Travis Richardson is fortunate to have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards for “Incident on the 405,” featured in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts at and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD. Find out more at:

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